2013 DSN events


2013 DSN AGM & Conference 

Saturday 23rd November 2013 at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, Newcastle upon Tyne

10.00 The Rewards of Keeping Doctors Healthy
Dr Richard Duggins, Lead Clinician, Consultant Psychiatrist & Psychotherapist, House Concern

10.35 How Do Antidepressants Work?
Dr Hamish McAllister-Williams, Lead Clinician & Consultant Psychiatrist, Regional Affective Disorders Service

Tyne bridges
11.30 “This Is My Life” 
Katharine Roff of Act Positive

13.45 AGM & Election of Committee

14.15 Admitting To A Mental Health Diagnosis As An MP
Kevan Jones, MP for Durham North

15.00 Finding Meaning through Art
Jo Hume
Reflections on the 2013 DSN AGM & conference by Ahmed Hankir

The Rewards of Keeping Doctors Healthy
The opening talk was given by Dr Richard Duggins who is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist at House Concern. Dr Duggins focused on burn out in the medical profession and how it is overrepresented in this population. He presented the results of recent research which revealed that engagement with House Concern’s services is associated with positive out-comes. Dr Duggins emphatically explained that developing good habits is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy mind and he made reference to Stephen Covey’s best-selling non-fiction business book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He concluded his lecture by delivering an important message to doctors: that it is better to suffer with other people than to suffer on your own...
Doctors' Support Network 2016 Dr Richard Duggins at DSN 2013 conference mental health
Dr Richard Duggins 
How do Antidepressants work?
The following talk was given by Dr Hamish McAllister-Williams who is a Reader in Clinical Psychopharmacology in the University of Newcastle and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist. His lecture was entitled, ‘How do Antidepressants Work?’ and provided an alternative biological perspective on the treatment of depression which complemented Dr Duggin’s psychotherapy lecture. Dr McAllister-Williams focused on what underlies depression from a basic science point of view and described the crucial role that 5 Hydroxy-Tryptamine (5 HT) plays in low mood, cognition, memory and behaviour. However, he also made it very clear that depression is not simply due to low levels of 5 HT and made reference to the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal gland (HPA) axis and its effect on a person’s vulnerability and resilience. In his penultimate slide, Dr McAllister-Williams stated that antidepressants reduce the rates of relapse in a third of patients. He did, however, add the caveat that it is important to bear in mind that different people respond to different things for reasons that we still do not know.
Doctors' Support Network 2016 Dr Hamish McAllister-Williams at DSN 2013 conference mental health
Dr Hamish McAllister-Williams
'This is My Life’
After the break Katharine Roff from Act Positive facilitated what she described as an “experiential session”. Katharine and an actor, Charlie, used a specially commissioned scenario to work through the pitfalls of communicating with an employer about health issues. This session was a truly extraordinary experience which involved role play and interactivity between the actors and the audience. Katharine explained emotional intelligence and the role it plays in our professional and personal lives.
Further reflections by Sally Mason
Admitting to a Mental Health Diagnosis as an MP
After lunch and the brief AGM, we were privileged that Kevan Jones, Labour MP for Durham North, came to tell us how he had announced to the House, during a debate a few years ago on mental health, that he had suffered from depression, with a ‘major breakdown’ in 1996. He said he felt as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders and, as if he had disclosed a dark secret. Kevan spoke frankly to us about the response to his disclosure, which was almost totally positive, with supportive emails and letters from constituents and others. He was touched when a constituent spoke to him in the street, thanking him for being honest –and described mental illness as an equal opportunity condition. No ‘Get Well’ cards for mental health
Kevan has found ways since to cope with the illness, initially medication and talking therapies, learning to challenge the ‘black dog of doubt’ which had haunted him. He said he thought that politicians and doctors were seen as ‘superhuman’ by the public, but actually asking for help is the strongest thing we can do. In the House of Commons, there is now an Occupational Health mental health budget, and they have apparently been inundated by MPs coming in for a chat. He sees the next task is to encourage industry to recognise the problem, citing BT as a shiningly good example, where all employees are trained on how to access help, and they are saving £25M a year by doing so. Poignantly, he said that when he had a physical accident, he was inundated with get well soon cards, but very few during his ‘breakdown’, and he looks forward to a time when the two conditions are viewed the same. Finally, Kevan spoke of his hope that policies can be written so that fairness across all illnesses exists in the work place, benefits etc. He felt that the media have a lot to answer for, labelling those with mental health problems in such a derogatory way, and we have to keep pushing the agenda.
Doctors' Support Network 2016 Kevan Jones MP at DSN 2013 conference mental health
Kevan Jones MP
Finding Meaning though Art
After tea, we were treated to a fantastic practical art session by Jo Hume, who has been an art teacher for many years. She spoke first about the value of expressing emotions on paper, in paint with different methods such as sticks, brushes, fronds of fir trees, sponges and other assorted bits and pieces she had brought along! Plastic sheets were put out covering the plush maroon carpet and we knelt down and got going! Firstly we were encouraged to see how many different ways we could get paint on a large sheet of paper, smearing, sploshing, and dabbing, and to look at what we had made. Then, in small groups, each person painted an emotion, chosen at random from a bag, such as affection, or companionability as pictured below. Finally, using glue, patterned pieces of paper, foil and tissue, ribbon and fabric as well as paint, we made a collage representing someone who meant a lot to us. Throughout, Jo wove between us all, commenting, encouraging and praising our efforts, and helping us to interpret what our pieces might be saying to us. For many of us this was the first time that we had ever had the opportunity to ‘play’ like this, and it was so relaxing and interesting!   
Doctors' Support Network 2016 Jo Hume artist at DSN 2013 conference mental health
Jo Hume
Sponsored by 
Doctors' Support Network 2016 Wesleyan logo mental health

Royal Society of Medicine 'Doctors' Health and Well-being:
​From medical students to trainees and senior doctors'

The Doctors' Support Network was pleased to sponsor the RSM ‘Doctors' health & well-being' meeting on 12th November 2013.  
Ahmed, Alison and I (Louise Freeman) manned the DSN stand and spoke to the predominantly psychiatry and occupational health delegates, expanding awareness of DSN to a focussed group of doctors who care for other doctors. 
Stress in doctors and contributing factors
Max Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiological and Occupational Psychiatry from Kings’ College, London equated special services for doctors with those for other groups with barriers to their care. He spoke of the need to influence how the GMC works and questioned whether the current model is in patients’ best interests. Further contributors in this section were Antony Garelick , and Rob Hale, both Consultant Psychiatrists in Psychotherapy. Dr Hale discussed case histories of several doctors (with permission) in order to illustrate the personal and environmental factors involved in doctors’ stress.
Medical Students’ health and personal resilience & The Chimp Paradox
Debbie Cohen from Cardiff University has led a survey of seven UK medical schools to analyse the health risks of medical students and Foundation doctors. Notable findings of her study were that finance and portfolios requirements were strongly related to stress in students and junior doctors. The Keynote speaker of the day was Professor Steve Peters, Consultant Psychiatrist and also Undergraduate Dean of Sheffield Medical School. Steve is best known for his work with a wide range of elite athletes including the British Cycling Team and Premier League football. His ‘Chimp Paradox’ theory of mind management was developed from his work with medical students after the tragic suicide of a student. The example he illustrated his talk with was that of one’s ‘chimp’ firing off an angry email response, followed by the realisation of the ‘human’ part of the mind that this was not a good idea. Steve spoke of the need to train the ‘computer’ part of the mind to have automatic programmes which could take over in particular stressful situations.
Doctors' Support Network 2016 Steve Peters' Chimp Paradox mental health
Creating a healthier working environment
James Dooley, from the North Central Thames Foundation School, outlined 'How trainers can support their trainees'. The following speaker, Sebastian Kraemer (Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist) interestingly likened medicine to the way in which the military worked in the past, with the overwhelming ethos of not letting colleagues down or showing weakness. Sebastian described his practice of leading fortnightly reflective team meetings. He commented that reflection was not easy for the doctors involved as, for example, reflective practice strips doctor of active competence. But, overall, the reflective meetings seemed to have a remarkable effect on the well-being of the doctors involved.

Coping with challenges
Jane Marshall is a Consultant Psychiatrist specialising in addictions who also works with the Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) and with the General Medical Council. Jane spoke about how the team works with addicted doctors and emphasised the good outcomes achieved with 80% of doctors abstinent post treatment. The final speaker, Julia Bland, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy and Director of MedNet addressed the question ‘What do doctors want from their colleagues when they are ill?’ Interestingly, Julia was the only speaker during the day to ‘come out’ as having had mental health care herself - expressing her gratitude to Dr Rob Hale for his help in the past. There was an animated discussion after her talk about whether doctors needed any higher standard of care than non medics. 

2013 UK Association for Physician Health annual meeting

The United Kingdom Association for Physician Health (UKAPH) was founded in 2012 and is chaired by Dr Mike Peters of the BMA Doctors for Doctors unit. The aim is to bring together professionals from a variety of backgrounds including psychology, occupational health, psychiatry, and general practice - with a common aim to improve the mental health of UK doctors.

​September 2013 at BMA House

By Dr Louise Freeman
Increased scrutiny of doctors is an issue 
The morning sessions centred on reflections by several speakers on how the pressure on doctors has greatly increased over the last few decades. Tony Garelick (MedNet) , Megan Joffe (NCAS), Andrew Collier (Chair Junior Doctors
Committee) and Cait Searl (consultant anaesthetist & negotiator national BMA consultant contract talks) all discussed similar topics such as the decrease in doctors’ hours with an associated increase in intensity of working. The scrutiny
of doctors from every possible viewpoint in today’s NHS was also felt to be a significant cause of added stress.
Doctors working with less autonomy
The final speaker of the morning was Ben Charnaud from the South West. Ben is a consultant psychiatrist with a special interest in occupational health who works in a service supporting doctors in primary care. He strikingly likened the situation of doctors today to being similar to Vichy France with medics working under a system with which they do not agree but have no choice.  

A lack of time to reflect in clinical practice 
Ben was an excellent speaker who fluently described an “absence of reflective space in most organisations which is harmful to an organisation carrying out its primary task except in a mechanical way." The morning sessions concluded with a small group discussion in which we shared our experiences of how working in UK healthcare has changed over time and tried to agree some lessons for where we are now.

Doctors as part of a family
The afternoon session began with Dr Julia Bland (consultant psychiatrist & psychoanalyst, MedNet) describing her work with doctor couples and families. Apparently medic/non-medic and medic/medic partnerships have their own characteristic difficulties.

The future of the UKAPH
The meeting finished with another small group session about how the attendees, working within fragmented systems, manage to function and support other doctors. There was discussion over the future of UKAPH and whether it needed to have a more formal structure.
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